Thursday, December 11, 2014

Trucking critics, take a chill pill – and let’s talk some facts

Trucking critics have the rhetoric and spin machine launched into overdrive. To say they are in a fizz over reinstating the previous version of the voluntary 34-hour restart would be the understatement of the century.

Blind emotions are driving these critics to grab at every inaccurate statistic they can. And, if they can’t find one to misconstrue, they are making stuff up.

First, the Tracy Morgan crash. The crash that is the critic's poster child reason for not changing the voluntary restart provision happened under the new version. Not the old one. There is no direct connection between the two. It’s like taking a flight from Kansas City to Dallas and going through Nova Scotia to connect those dots.

Second, please, please, please, give the 82-hour workweek a rest. You can make it happen on paper. That’s it. Real world scenarios do not allow such a week. On paper I could be model thin and mega rich. That’s not happening either. And, who, beyond any profession that bills by the hour wants to work 82 hours in a week. Not me. But maybe I’m just lazy.

Third, quit overstating fatalities – especially when you’re going to ignore who is at fault in those crashes. I’ve beat this drum I don’t know how many times, but since the trucking critics are banging the trash can of bad stats, I’ll put it out there again.

The most recent year of complete crash data released was 2012. Here are some key points:
  •         There were 3,464 fatal crashes involving large trucks.
  •         3,921 people died in crashes involving large trucks (not 10,000).
  •          Research shows that of those 3,464 wrecks involving large trucks, 75 to 80 percent of those      wrecks were not the fault of the trucker.
What the media should be focused on is how most people on the road are dying.
  •         There were 26,540 fatal crashes that did not involve large trucks.
  •          29,156 people died in crashes that did not involve large trucks.
Every life is precious. Every death is tragic. But, you cannot keep blaming truckers and ignoring the fact that the vast majority of passenger drivers who die on the road play a role in their own deaths. Training and safety measures need to happen for personal vehicle drivers, too. No one will go for that, though.

Finally, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, explains that the changes to the 34-hour restart provision will not do very well. So, I’ll use her words. Here’s what she told members of the Senate Commerce Committee prior to the amendment’s overwhelming bipartisan passage 21-9 in June.

“This amendment does not, does not make changes to the maximum number of hours per day that a driver can be behind the wheel … it does not change the mandatory 30-minute meal or rest break during a shift … it does not change the total on-duty window in each shift … it does not change the minimum off-duty hours required between shifts … it does not change the sleeper-berth requirement for splitting off-duty time,” she told committee members.

So let’s tap the brake on the BS and focus on facts. Death and mayhem will most certainly NOT follow on the highways if the changes are implemented. Give it a rest.

On a quick side note, truckers, OOIDA has a call to action out there encouraging support of the full appropriations bill so we can get these changes done. “One more call to your lawmakers – both your congressman and senators – would be a good move. The number for the U.S. Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121. The message is short and sweet. Simply ask the staff person to convey your message to ‘pass the CRomnibus legislation’ and thank them for doing so,” the alert states. And feel free to use any of the above facts when mentioning your support.